Well this will be a bit of a departure for me as I will only be using the word SharePoint a few times, and only in this paragraph. Recently, my adventures in SharePoint Governance have taken me deep into the dark, windowless, subterranean world of Records Management and I have not only been properly categorized and classified but I’ve realized that these proud but pale people have been plotting all along. So for this post I will focus explicitly on my recent RM learnings and postulations.
Lately there has been a new exuberance around records management – I know, I never thought I’d see, none the less use, the words “records management” in the same sentence as “exuberance” either – I am not sure if it’s all the fabulous new directives coming out of the U.S. federal space or (what I really hope) that people who want records solutions have figured out a devious new plan on how to get them into their organizations.
We’ve likely all read the article by now, if not the summary is as follows: based on a Gartner study from 2012, CMOs will outpace CIOs in IT spend by 2017. Since first reading that article I have seen numerous other articles outlining what the CIOs new role will be and, in a nutshell, that role will go from manager of IT to leverager of IT. The information systems are in place, there is going to be very little new spend on infrastructure, and demands are coming in from the CIO’s constituents to do more with that infrastructure. CIOs now want “solutions” that integrate with their existing infrastructure and resolve the problems of their constituents. And based on this new development, I think some folks in the records realm have gotten smart.
For example, say the human resources department (a constituent of the CIO) is looking for a better more effective and efficient way to do its job and believes technology can get it there. Now this group certainly doesn’t understand technology (not really, or at least not yet) but they do know a person who does. The demand to the CIO from HR will also require the information management of sensitive business and personal content, or records.
Ah-ha! A group that isn’t records management that needs a records management solution!
Well… sort of, but here is the spin.
Records folk are getting savvy to the broader IT solution needs and direction of the organization. They are looking for the people with money and pull within the organization; those true constituents of the CIO. Add to this that they aren’t pitching records management for records management’s sake, they are pitching it as part of a broader solution, perhaps as part of an information governance, or information management initiative like the HR example above. So now when the request hits the CIO they see that someone is asking for a new solution, that resolves a focused pain of one of their constituents, which triggers a review of what of the existing infrastructure can be leveraged. If the records “element” of the solution cannot be fully satisfied by what’s in place, then someone will have to spend to ensure the initiatives requirements can be met.
Now here is where those supporting the records initiative must be shrewd. They surely can’t pitch their part of the proposed solution as records, or even governance for that matter, to the CIO. In all my time in records and governance I have learned one immutable law: records (and governance) is a cost center [in the eyes of IT]. With that said, the concept of records has to be pitched with a cost savings value. Simply, the new HR solution will drive improved efficiencies and productivity (cost savings) and the records element has to do the same.
How do we do that?
Consider looking to the future, and make this a long term play, not a short term fix. To this thought consider that according to market data the cost to store content will be nearly one hundred times cheaper by 2020. Now equate this to the fact that an RM repository is for “long term preservation” of content and with the RM process content will be shuttled off to a tier three storage environment for example, which will cost one fifth that of tier one where the content currently lives. Also, understand that in the same timeframe where storage costs are decreasing, that the cost to actually manage content will double, then relate that if this content is connected to a content governance lifecycle (where part of that lifecycle is content being managed as a record) then outline the cost savings attributable to having a streamlined management process in place that accounts for the entire lifecycle of any content coming into the organization from the moment it arrives. With just those two concepts the records group has not only integrated their technology demands into the broader solution and organization, but they have also provided a vision that the CIO can embrace… and maybe even take credit for.
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